Poor air quality recorded in central, northern Taiwan

The air quality in central and northern parts of western Taiwan was generally rated "unhealthy" Sunday because of a lack of wind to disperse atmospheric pollutants, much of which sourced from the lighting of firecrackers during the Lantern Festival celebrations the previous two days. (Photo courtesy of CNA)

Taipei, March 4 (CNA) The air quality in central and northern parts of western Taiwan was generally rated “unhealthy” Sunday because of a lack of wind to disperse atmospheric pollutants, much of which sourced from the lighting of firecrackers during the Lantern Festival celebrations the previous two days, according to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA)’s Taiwan Air Quality Monitoring Network.

As of noon, the EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI) flashed a red warning, indicating unhealthy air for the general public, in Changhua’s Xianxi and Erlin and Yunlin’s Lunbei.

Meanwhile, 28 monitoring stations in northern and central Taiwan as well as Yunlin and Chiayi, including 13 in the greater Taipei areas, flashed an orange warning, signaling unhealthy air for sensitive groups.

In the rest of western Taiwan and all of eastern Taiwan, the air quality was rated as either good or fair, the monitoring data showed.

The poor air quality is unlikely to improve until Monday when a weather front arrives, the EPA warned, adding that the situation in southern and eastern Taiwan was relatively better Sunday due to southernly and easterly winds.

Considering that the AQI at one-third of the monitoring stations in greater Taipei, Hsinchu and Miaoli in northern and central Taiwan flashed red or orange alerts, state-owned Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) has reduced the output of the coal-fired Taichung Power Plant and the Hsieh-ho Power Plant in Keelung to cut air pollution emissions, according to the EPA.

The EPA’s AQI takes into account ozone, PM2.5 and PM10 particulates, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide concentrations in the air.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Evelyn Kao)